DCA Live Red Hot Not
Last week I noticed a posting from a friend about DCA Live on Twitter. It got me thinking, which is something I try to do every 10 years or so. What the hell is a DCA Live?
Here’s what I saw on Twitter:
Awesome event! Congrats to the nominees!! Great list of top tech cos in DC!!
— Tien Wong (@tienwong) July 10, 2018
Just wondering? What qualifies as a red hot company? If I started a company, April 2015, burned through $3 million and produced no product… ever, am I red hot? Asking for a #DCTech @perrelli @lifefuels friend.
— Glen Hellman (@glehel) July 13, 2018
When I was a young man, just as the earth was cooling, a headhunter introduced me to a company that wound up hiring me. I never paid him a dime and I didn’t really understand his business model. How did he make money?
Then one day while I was sitting in my new bosses office, I noticed my boss had a coffee mug with the logo of the headhunting firm that placed me at this company.
The next day, I called the headhunter and said to him, “you know what I just figured out? How to tell the customer from the product… the customer gets the mug.”
So back to DCA Live. What the hell is a DCA live and who gets the mug? I was curious about the event and DCA Live’s business model. I did a little (okay very little) research and couldn’t help but notice that of the 38 companies (because they couldn’t round up 50? In actuality they couldn’t even find 38) at the event, some of them are very red hot. One of them, LifeFuels is red hot if you judge red hot by the following criteria:
- CEO and Founder is a Red Hot Pants on Fire Liar
- The company was founded on April Fools Day 2015
- In the over three years this company has been in business it has more ex-employees than the 12 current employees listed on the website. According to the Washington Business Journal, the company had a layoff April 2017 reducing staff from 20 to 12.
- Has spent more money to win meaningless vanity awards than it has generated in revenue
- Has yet to earn a penny of revenue in 3 1/2 years of operation
- Has burned through $5 million in Angel Funding
- Has no product… none… nada… zilch
If that’s a Red Hot Company as judged by DCA Live than DCA Live is a Red Hot Ticket as judged by DC Live… you should rush out and spend $79 to learn how you too can charge people $79 dollars to see a hot steaming pile of feces crowned as a Red Hot Company.
The only way LifeFuels is a red-hot by any measure is if instead of wasting investor money to serve the vanity of Jonathon Perrelli, instead of wasting money building a DCInno Office-Envy-Worthy office, throwing away cash on two meaningless CES Innovation awards which anyone who writes a check to CES can win… instead of wasting money to hire a bunch of fawning millennials to work in marketing and business development for a company that has no product to be marketed or business developed, instead of hiring staff whose main purpose was to worship JP, instead of throwing away cash to feed the fragile ego of Perrelli, a man in desperate need of affirmation… wait a minute?
What was my point here? Oh yes, the only way LifeFuels could have been a Red Hot company is if Perrelli literally took the $5 million he says he raised from investors, piled it up in one dollar bills, poured gasoline on it and then lit it on fire. Instead, in reality, he figuratively lit $5 million on fire while he literally burned the cash.
If they were this wrong about LifeFuels what other garbage is being honored?
I studied the list and ranked the DCA Live Red Hot Companies based my familiarity and ability to make judgments regarding their quality. I have inside or personal knowledge of seven of the companies. I heard of and have reliable information on 10 others. Then there are 21 of which I never heard of which by no means is an indictment. I love companies that spend more time creating and selling products versus companies that yell at the top of their lungs, “hey, look at me,” and after 3 years have produced nothing but meaningless awards and hot air. I prefer companies that exert their limited resources towards rational priorities.
Out of the seven companies of which I’m very familiar including LifeFuels, two of them, EverFi and Industry Dive are not just genuinely red-hot companies, they are on red hot fire. Industry Dive is an extremely healthy, capital efficient, fast growth, profitable company. EverFi has grown to over 500 employees in less than a decade. EverFi’s investors are a Who’s Who of Who’s Who… U2’s Bono, Sir Richard Branson, Sir Lebron James, Jeff Bezos, and Eric Schmidt.
Two of the companies, Upside Door and Ordway are legitimately red hot. There’s another company that was red hot about 3 years ago and is now stagnant and cooling off. There is also a company on that list that was founded in 1988 and is a good company, but it ain’t setting any worlds on fire. Oh, and then there is LifeFuels that is red hot in the way a dumpster fire is red hot. That rounds up the personally know category.
There are other very interesting companies on the list, HatchApp, RightEye, Hungry, ThreatConnect, StreetShares.
But then there’s Raffa.. a good company probably, but it’s an Accounting Company founded in 1984… Red Hot?
I never heard of Aledade but they look like they are an amazing company. There are four companies on the list that are 20 years or older. None of them taking the world by fire. It’s kind of a random bizarre list of companies and no explanation of the factors fed into the black box that cogitated an algorithm that spit out these results.
I’m going to try and reverse engineer it.
DCA Live The Barrel
What is the purpose of DCA Live and this event? Is the company a non-profit? No, LifeFuels is the only unintentional non-profit in this barrel. Is DCA a company organized for the public good. Nope. It’s a good old model of capitalism. It’s a company designed to make money. Nothing wrong with that.
Let’s try and figure out who in this DCA Live equation is product and who is customer.
I propose that this is s shooting fish in a barrel business model.
DCA Live Red Hot Fish
The Honorees are the fish. They are invited to jump into the DCA Live Barrel.
I reached out to a couple of the award winners. They say they didn’t pay anything, nor did they expend any effort to apply for the “honor” of being included in the same category with LifeFuels. I’m going to say that the honorees are product… not customers. Then who are the customers?
DCA Live Red Hot Shootists
I propose there are two levels
DCA Live Sponsors
The sponsors of the event are either sponsoring by lending their social capital and network in exchange for the promotional value of being associated with the event or they’re paying to go hunting. For instance, a company like Insperity would love to pick up a gun and bag themselves many of those fish in that barrel.
Some of these sponsors are paying to be sponsors, have their names in front of the fish and others are lending their names and networks for access to the fish and or to promote their businesses.
These are the customers. They get the mug. They get a gun and a hunting license to start shooting in the barrel.
At $79 per head, no one’s getting rich on paid attendees but it defrays the cost. Now, why would someone pay to be in this room? I guarantee they find better food and drink at better prices almost anywhere. For instance, a Chicken Dinner at Popeyes and a couple of cans of Bud cost less than $10. Maybe paid attendees want to know how to be a Red Hot Company… they aren’t going to find that out in that room. Maybe they want to pick up a pistol and start shooting into the barrel.
Hey folks, I like many of the people who are sponsors of this event and many the award winners. It may be a worthwhile event. But for me… I’d rather not be fish in a barrel and when I’m out fishing… I’d rather catch my fish the old fashioned way… in the wild, with a rod and reel.
Hey DCA, you insult the real companies of quality, the real red hots, when you invite just regular companies and worse than regular companies and compare them all as peers to the truly exceptional companies on your list. It’s an insult to the real red hot companies.
I’m not saying there is anything wrong with the DCA Live Business Model. I am, however, speculating the event is about something other than honoring truly Red Hot Companies. It’s important to understand the business model when you’re evaluating the judges of what is hot and what is not. I’m just saying it would be less of an insult to great companies if you called it what it was…
An Opportunity for prospective customer of DCA Live sponsors to pick up a trophy, get meaningless vanity award, some press, and be sales and marketing targets fodder to your sponsors and paying guests.